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Thursday, 14 September 1911


Senator RAE (New South Wales) . - I should like to know, from the Minister, whether the Bill sets forth the cases in which the forfeiture of a man's wages may be directed. I think that in our Police Courts, from year to year, very gross abuses take place in this regard. There may be cases, of course, where that is the best way in which to punish men for the offences of -which they have been found guilty. But I have read of a number of cases where it seems to me the grossest injustice has been practised by the captain or other officer of a ship, who practically goaded men into doing something which was not strictly within the law, and. then got even with them by Obtaining an order for the forfeiture of their wages because of the commission of an offence. In some cases, men have been punished because they refused to go to sea in ships which were rotten. It was only by a resort to some corrupt means that the ships were able to leave port. But it was shown afterwards by wreckage, and in other ways, that the men who had been punished on shore were morally in the right when they refused to go on board. Yet, in these cases, the Court expressed the opinion that it had no option but to fine men when justice was clearly- on their side, according to' the weight of evidence brought forward. I want to know whether the Bill covers such cases, so that we may be madecognisant of the offences which involve a forfeiture of wages when proven to the satisfaction of a Court. It is not the captain and the mates of a vessel who have to forfeit their wages, but the menwho refuse to put up with a tyrannical skipper, or with execrable food.


Senator Millen - Under this Bill, there should be no reason for complaint as tothe food supplied to the seamen.


Senator RAE - I am pleased to hear that the seamen are to be assured a supply of good food. Can the Minister give some information as to the circumstances in which a Court can direct a forfeiture of the wages of a seaman?







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